Living in the Power of God (2)

The grace which lets us stand
Romans 5.1-11

Living in the Power of God: Peace (v1)

Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, and welfare and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye. As it does in English, it can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God or between two countries), or to the well-being, welfare or safety of an individual or a group of individuals.

Maybe the text could be “let us have peace….” rather than “we have peace”, as most early manuscripts support this as the correct expression. It is then an exhortation – enjoy the peace of God. However, most translations and commentators stick with “we have peace”. It makes sense that Paul is writing about what we have: peace, grace, hope and so on. To include an exhortation in the midst of this doesn’t make theological or grammatical sense!

Living in the Power of God:Grace to stand (v2a)

This ‘grace’ is not because of the peace we experience – otherwise this would simply be a repeat of verse 1. Rather, our state of being favoured by God is because of our justification. Being justified or reconciled to God means we can stand before him, as if in the presence of royalty. Although to stand could mean simply to be (grace to be in God’s presence), it in more likely that it means to stand firm or abide in God’s presence. What an amazing situation we find ourselves in!

Living in the Power of God: Rejoice in hope (v2b)

Christian hope is not uncertain. It is and is being revealed in creation Ps 19.1, Is 6.3. It is revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus (v6-11). It will be seen when Christ is fully revealled, when we are transformed into his glory (8.23). It will be seen in the new creation.

I have chosen to use the word ‘rejoice’ here, as in the NIV. The TNIV uses ‘boast’ and ‘glory’ even through the word is the same in verses 3 and 4. Elsewhere it is translated ‘exult’. Boasting is a ugly word but this is good boasting, a exultant celebration of the hope we have.

Calvin says of this verse that “Although believers are now pilgrims no earth, yet by their confidence they surmount the heavens, so that they cherish their future inheritance … with tranquility”.

Living in the Power of God:Rejoice in suffering

1.Suffering is the only way to glory
(Rms 8.17; Acts 14.22; Mark 13.19-24; Rev 7.14)

2.Suffering produces maturity now(v3-4)

Irenaeus, (2nd century AD – c. 202) was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, (now Lyons, France). He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He especially taught against the heresy of gnosticism and for the careful discipleship of new Christians. He is credited with being the first church leader to recognise the New Testament alongside the Old as authoritative scripture.

Irenaeus believed that there were two stages to creation. First, people are born as an immature being that has to grow and develop. There would come a period of change where man would respond to situations in life and eventually become a ‘Child of God’.

Irenaeus argued that we were created imperfect so that we could freely choose to become good and turn to God. We were made at a distance from God – a distance of knowledge.

Irenaeus saw the world as a ‘soul-making place’. Evil is necessary to aid this development. Natural evil such as famine had a divine purpose – to develop qualities such as compassion. Evil as a necessary part of life, something that will eventually make us into better people.

Is God responsible for the existence of evil? For Irenaeus God is partly responsible for evil. Evil is a means by which we can grow and learn.

What is the origin of evil and the role of freewill? Irenaeus said that the world was made imperfect and so moral evil is the result of the freewill to follow or disobey God.

Some other aspects of this view of suffering are also attractive. The normal assumption of the skeptic is that God has supposedly created a perfect world and that if there is suffering in it it must mean that…

  • God is a nasty or weak character.
  • God does not exist.

For Irenaeus, this problem is overcome by the idea that the world is (or more specifically we are) not finished, we are ‘moving toward’ perfect but we are not there yet. God wants us to develop freely to become ‘his children’, he therefore gives us the perfect environment to develop both spiritually and morally, without pain suffering and other nastiness this could not happen. A perfect world can not make us perfect people – Adam being the prime example.

I don’t agree with everything Irenaeus taught, but this verse does suggest that evil has a function which enables us to grow and eventually overcome. Remarkably God turns even the most awful situations in shoots of goodness.

3.Suffering is the context for knowing God’s love (v5)

  • Then, seen in the death of Jesus (v6-9)

  • Now, experienced in the power of the Holy Spirit (v5a)
    One of the ministries of the Spirit is to pour God’s love into our hearts. “Indeed the initial outpouring remains as a flood”. Strictly speaking is not an outpouring of the Spirit, but of the love of God by the Spirit.
  • Expected, confidently in the future (v9-11)

Cell outline

Don’t people have peace with God anyway? How or why are we at war with him?

After 4 chapters of dealing with the reasons for our alienation from God, we read “Therefore having been justified through faith, we have peace with God”. What kind of peace can we expect to come from our Christian faith? Do these verses help develop your understanding: Matt 10:34, Mark 5:34, Acts 9:31, Acts 10:36, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:48, Luke 24:36, John 3:36, Col 1:21-22.

Try and put into your own words what it mean to have “access by faith into this grace”? These verses could help: Jeremiah 32:38-40

What kind of suffering is Paul discussing in verse 3 and how can we endure them? These verses may help: John 15:20 1 Thess 3:3, 1 Peter 4:19, 16, Acts 14:22, Eph 3:13,

Think of some examples when you have experienced the progression of character building in v3-4. What did you learn about God and yourself?

Going deeper
Draw a line graph for the time you have been a Christian and your sense of the presence of God (v1)? Why is it this way? What can you learn for the future?

What is the explanation of verses 6-8? What was or is “the right time”? Christ’s death 2000 years ago was “once for all”. So who are the sinners in v8? What can it mean that you and I were still sinners, when we hadn’t been born.

2 comments to Living in the Power of God (2)

  • Magicrat

    Iraueous – is your view that since sin has been admitted to the world by Adam, that God makes use of it as a positive force, almost self-correcting? Was Iraneous relying (in part) on Gen 1:3-5 to say the world was made imperfect? (ie light and darkness were made and separated before the sun, moon and stars were made so must be interpreted as having a different meaning.)

  • John Smith

    This is perhaps the most difficult of Irenaeus theology for us to understand.We are so used to thinking about sin in individualistic terms whilst Irenaeus believed that all humankind were like a single body, whose head was Adam.For Irenaeus, God is above all a shepherd and a parent, therefore the purpose of divine law is to guide us in our own development.Sin is disobedience to a father; just as children are disobedient to their parents. As parents, we can use punishment to enable a child to grow.A Sheppard does not lead the flock along a certain path for the sole purpose of showing power and authority. A human parent does not establish rules of conduct for the sheer pleasure of being obeyed, but from the conviction that those rules will benefit the children. Likewise, the laws established by God serve to help humans in their process of growth and development towards closer communion with God.For Ireneus, original sin does not consist merely in an inheritance from our ancestors, nor is it a way of speaking of our individual actions, but it is rather the consequence of human solidarity when it is turned to evil. Literally then, ”in Adam we all have sinned.”Sin is one of mankind’s conditions one is born with, and into. It’s something we are infected of in the same way as a disease.

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